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Here are five spring primaries that could hurt Dems’ chances to win back the House

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WASHINGTON — In their battle for control of the House, Democrats have caught some important breaks over the past few months. Pennsylvania’s new congressional map. The narrow win in PA-18. And key GOP retirements, including Paul Ryan’s.

But over the next month, Dems — and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, specifically — face at least five primary hurdles they need to clear. And if they trip on most (or all) of them, those failures will erase the potential gains they received from Pennsylvania’s new map, hurting their chances to win back the House.

Three of the five hurdles are in California, where the state’s “Top 2” primary system could shut out Dems from the general election in districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

CA-39 (June 5 primary): In the race to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the conventional wisdom is that Republican Young Kim is assured of being in the Top 2, but the race for the other slot is a margin of error contest between Dem Gil Cisneros (whom the DCCC prefers), Republican Bob Huff and Dem Andy Thorburn. The DCCC is airing negative TV ads against Huff and another Republican, Shawn Nelson. The Cook Political Report currently lists CA-39 as LEAN D.

CA-48 (June 5 primary): Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is potentially vulnerable, but Democrats are sweating making the Top 2 after former Orange County GOP Chair Scott Baugh got into the race in a district where Republican primary voters still outnumber Democrats. The top Democrats are Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda. And the Los Angeles Times reports that the DCCC just named Rouda to its “Red to Blue” program. Cook has CA-48 as TOSS UP.

CA-49 (June 5th primary): This is the race to replace retiring Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the top Democrats are Doug Applegate and Sara Jacobs; Dems feel good about Applegate’s chances to make the Top 2, and there’s a chance two Democrats could qualify for the general. The top Republicans are Diane Harkey and Rocky Chavez. Cook has CA-49 as LEAN D.

Outside of California, Democrats have two additional hurdles to clear later this month:

NE-2 (May 15): In the race to take on Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Democrats have a primary between former Congressman Brad Ashford (who narrowly lost to Bacon in 2016) and Kara Eastman, who’s backed by progressive groups. Dems don’t believe Ashford will have a problem beating Eastman, but it’s a race worth watching. Cook has NE-2 as TOSS UP.

TX-7 (May 22): Earlier this year, the DCCC received plenty of criticism for dropping oppo on one of their own candidates — Laura Moser — because the committee thinks it disqualifies her as a general election candidate against incumbent Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas. Moser still advanced to the run-off against Lizzie Fletcher, but national Democrats have warned they won’t play in this expensive Houston district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 if Moser is the nominee. The CW, however, is that Fletcher has a slight lead for the runoff. Cook has TX-7 as TOSS UP.

Bottom line: Democrats will consider it a success if they clear at least four of these five hurdles; it will be manageable (but not ideal) for them if they clear three; and it will be a near-disaster if they clear only two or fewer. So the next month of primaries — especially the ones in California — will be crucial for Democrats in their quest to take back the House.

WaPo: In the Midwest, Trump has lost sway with some of his supporters

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes about the conversations he’s had with Trump supporters over the last 15 months. “Among the president’s true loyalists, his grip remains strong. Among others who supported him, that hold has weakened. Almost no one, even his most ardent supporters, appreciates the president’s tweets, although for some it is less the content that offends them and more the worry that it reveals a volatile president unable to control his impulses.”

Balz adds, “But there is a deeper unease that filters through conversations with some of those who voted for him, a recognition that to gain something, they must give something — that to see policy changes they favor they must tolerate behavior they sometimes find inexcusable. For Trump, political risk lies in the degree to which dissatisfaction with the disorder and conduct outweigh any achievements that his voters expected to see. That holds implications for this November’s midterm elections but even more so for 2020.”

A trio of stories coming from the Trump White House

These three different stories came out in a single day:

White House aide mocks McCain’s cancer

“A top White House communications aide made fun of Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis on Thursday, sources with direct knowledge said — comments that enraged the senator’s wife,” per NBC’s Kristen Welker, Ken Dilanian, Geoff Bennett and Alex Johnson. “The comments, which were first reported by The Hill, a Washington political newspaper, came during a meeting a day after McCain, R-Ariz., announced that he was opposing the nomination of Gina Haspel to be permanent director of the CIA. “He’s dying anyway,” said Kelly Sadler the White House’s director of surrogate and coalitions outreach, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.” (NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports that Republican supporters of John McCain on Capitol Hill are privately livid about the remarks made about him.)

Chief of staff says undocumented immigrants “don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills”

And in an interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said this about undocumented immigrants: “Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS13. … But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. … They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. … The big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.” (As The Atlantic’s Andrew Exum points out, “Literally everything that Kelly says about this generation’s immigrants could have been said about the Irish who arrived in the 19th Century or the Italians who came over in the 20th Century.”)

DHS secretary almost resigns after being berated by Trump

“Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, told colleagues she was close to resigning after President Trump berated her on Wednesday in front of the entire cabinet for what he said was her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders, according to several current and former officials familiar with the episode,” per the New York Times. (NBC’s Pete Williams reports that Nielsen says she isn’t leaving her job.)

Rundown on the 2018 midterms

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent midterm developments we’ve chronicled on our Rundown blog: The 2018 generic ballot has been steadier than you think… Also: Independent voters are close to outnumbering Republicans in California… And Trump, in Indiana last night, stayed on message — and gave Joe Donnelly a new nickname.



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Brexit Britain remains top choice for finance firms – 'Why would anyone move to Paris?'

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THE CITY of London will continue to thrive in Brexit Britain with it remaining a top choice for firms, an independent economist has said.

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Biden will instruct FEMA to establish ‘thousands’ of Covid vaccination centers

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Trump’s leaving the White House, but the party is still his

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WASHINGTON — If you’re Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney, here is your challenge as impeachment moves to a Senate trial: The GOP is still Trump’s party.

At least for now.

According to brand-new numbers from our NBC News poll, only 8 percent of Republican voters support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.

That’s compared with 50 percent of all voters who say this, including 89 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents.

What also stands out: These percentages — overall and by party — are virtually identical to the impeachment/removal numbers for Trump during the Ukraine scandal.

It’s largely the story of the Trump Era: The numbers and partisan divide rarely change, even after an assault at the Capitol.

And just check out the opening paragraphs from this New York Times story.

“In Cleveland County, Okla., the chairman of the local Republican Party openly wondered ‘why violence is unacceptable,’ just hours before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. ‘What the crap do you think the American revolution was?’ he posted on Facebook. ‘A game of friggin pattycake?’”

“Two days later, the Republican chairman of Nye County in Nevada posted a conspiracy-theory-filled letter on the local committee website, accusing Vice President Mike Pence of treason and calling the rioting a ‘staged event meant to blame Trump supporters.’”

“And this week in Virginia, Amanda Chase, a two-term Republican state senator running for governor, maintained that President Trump might still be sworn into a second term on Jan. 20 and that Republicans who blocked that ‘alternative plan’ would be punished by the president’s supporters.”

If you’re a Republican opposed to Trump — or simply to how he conducted himself before last week’s attack — you’re in the minority of your party.

Back to the virus

Since Jan. 6 — the day of last week’s attack at the Capitol — this country has seen more than 2 million new coronavirus cases and more than 28,000 deaths from the virus.

Think about that again: In a little more than a week, 2 million new cases (!!!) and 28,000-plus deaths.

It’s that context — and presidential void — to view President-elect Joe Biden’s primetime address where he rolled out his $1.9 coronavirus relief package (more on that below).

The outgoing president has been MIA when it comes the coronavirus. So the incoming president has decided to take on the issue head-on before his inauguration.

And today, Biden delivers remarks on administering COVID vaccines to the U.S. population.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

23,421,473: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 237,251 more than yesterday morning.)

389,652: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 3,954 more than yesterday morning.)

128,947: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

275.78 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

965,000: The latest initial weekly unemployment claims in the U.S.

5: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Here’s what’s in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday called for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday, per NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor.

The “American Rescue Plan” includes investments in a national vaccination program, additional direct payments and an increased federal minimum wage of $15 per hour.

“We are in a race against time. We need these resources to vaccinate the vast majority of Americans and to put safety measures in place that will help us put Covid behind us, so that we can reopen our schools, businesses, and once again be able to get there with our friends and family,” one senior transition official said on a briefing call with reporters.

Here’s some of what the plan asks for:

  • Containing Covid-19 and reopening schools by mounting a national vaccination program – Total: $416B. (That amount includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program and $170 billion to for schools).
  • Helping working families struggling from suffering economy – Total: $1 trillion. (That amount includes $1,400 per person direct payments and $400/week unemployment insurance programs for hard hit Americans).
  • Assisting small businesses, including minority business owners. (That includes $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to pay frontline workers, as well as $15 billion in grants to help hardest-hit small businesses).

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ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Don’t miss this piece from Benjy Sarlin on how members of Congress are fearful even of some of their own colleagues.

And here’s the Washington Post on how some Capitol Police were battered at the hands of protestors.

GOP Sen. James Lankford has apologized to Black Tulsans for questioning the 2020 election results.

Here’s how Facebook and Twitter decided to make their moves on Trump’s accounts last week.

Biden has selected his deputy CIA director.

And he has picked his new director of vaccine efforts.

Rudy Giuliani may be on the outs with most of Trump World, but he still wants in.

The New York Times talked to GOP state and local leaders all over the country. Many described their devotion to Trump with an almost religious fervor.



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